Should I Settle My Case or Go to Trial?
I routinely hear that 90 to 95 % of lawsuits involving personal injury or business disputes settle before trial. That figure seems high, but it is definitely true that most cases get worked out before they are ever heard by a judge or jury. In some cases, the parties work out a settlement on their own. In others, a mediator helps them reach an agreement. What are the advantages to settlement? Here are just a few:
SEVERAL ADVANTAGES TO SETTLING OUT OF COURT
You have control over how the lawsuit ends. In a settlement, the parties come to an agreement about how the lawsuit ends. You agree to whether money is to be paid, and if so, how much. You agree on whether the settlement will be kept private. You can agree to who pays attorneys’ fees. Like any other contract, you can add whatever settlement terms you and your opponent agree to.
You eliminate the risk of going to trial. Jurors usually “get it right”. But they aren’t always predictable, and often decide cases based on factors the parties haven’t even thought about. When this happens, you do not want to be on the receiving end of it, and settlement cuts off that risk.
You no longer will have to pay attorneys’ fees. Lawsuits are expensive, and taking a case to trial can be tremendously costly. If your lawyer is not on a contingency fee, then he or she is probably being paid by the hour, and will be working 12-15 hours a day during your trial, which can get expensive. Settlement will end that drain on your resources.
You can move on with your life. Lawsuits are draining mentally, emotionally and financially. Settlement may not give you “closure” (whatever that is), but at the very least you can move the lawsuit off the front burner of your life.
But settling isn’t always the best call, and they are just as many reasons to take a case to trial, such as the below.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO GO TO TRIAL?
You want your day in court. If you sue someone, it is usually because you feel that person or business has done something wrong. You may want money from them. You may want them to stop doing something, or change the way they do business. And you may rightfully feel that the best way to make a statement against your opponent is to have a judge or jury tell them that what they have done isn’t right.
The other side may be unreasonable. Sometimes the other side may be greedy, or very stingy in their settlement negotiations. If a competing business has ruined you by disparaging your company, and then only offers you $100, then it’s probably a case that the jury should decide.
The parties just can’t work it out. Sometimes there are cases where both sides are being reasonable, but just can’t come to an agreement on settlement terms. At the end of the day they will say “this is what we have juries for, let’s let them decide”.
You want the big win. Texas juries still can and do award a lot of money. But they can also deliver big wins for defendants, by rejecting requests for big damage awards. Often parties to civil suits see things in good vs. evil terms, and simply want to beat the other side…sometimes into the ground. There is nothing wrong with that!
Remember that each case is different, and the decision as to whether to settle or go to trial is almost always a difficult one. You will almost always need an attorney to help you reach the decision, and it will be your decision to make. At the Law Office of Phil Griffis, our goal is to help you profit from litigation, in terms of your time, your money and your reputation. Contact us at (832) 284-4013 so we can discuss your personal injury or commercial litigation case and help you to determine your best course of action.